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2009: THE YEAR IN REVIEW



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December 30, 2009 - Editor's Note: The beginning of a new year is a time to reflect on all the highlights – and lowlights – of the previous 365 days. It's a chance to revel in our successes and learn from our mistakes. Please join us as we look back in this issue on the first six months of 2009. We'll conclude our look back with the rest of the year in next week's edition. Enjoy.

January 7

Developer Joseph Kosik, Jr. recently confirmed that Kohl's department store reversed its decision to be part of his proposed shopping center on the east side of M-24, just north of Oxford Village. A new market study and changing economy made the corporation change its mind.

A handful of Oxford businesses along the west side of M-24, just south of Drahner, spent the last few days of 2008 in the dark thanks to a power outage caused by high winds.

OHS grapplers' beat five teams to win the Oxford Invitational.

January 14

The Oxford Township Board and Village Council sat down and discussed the issue face-to-face, but it appears the two bodies could not be farther apart on the issue of how the former is going to compensate the latter for its equity in the fire department.

If The Sandtrap LLC, the holding company that owns the now-closed Kalloway's Restaurant & Pub cannot come up with the $1.25 million plus interest that's owed Oxford Bank by March 23, the financial institution will take possession of the building and approximately 3 acres it sits on.

Oxford residents Bob and Karen Thibodeau are the proud parents of the community's first baby of the New Year. His name is Timothy Justin Thibodeau.

A group of OHS students, a pair of OES teachers and a 2000 Oxford graduate are heading to Washington D.C. to witness the swearing in of President-Elect Barack Obama, the nation's first black president.

January 21

OHS freshman Mac Marion died suddenly. He lived with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy all his life, but the exact cause of his death is unknown at this point. He was a very popular student at the high school and will be missed by many.

A forensic science class will be offered this fall at OHS.

Former Oxford Twp. Treasurer and former Ortonville Clerk/Treasurer Mary Clark was charged with willful neglect of duty by a public officer after money she received from two Ortonville taxpayers was never deposited.

Viktor Paljusaj and Rock Paljusaj, the new owners of downtown Oxford's Rob's Place, have big plans to remodel the old watering hole.

January 28

Oxford Schools announced plans to launch a more "visually stimulating" district website Feb. 2.

Larry Payne, who owned the Long Branch Saloon in Oxford from 1980-84, passed away at age 65.

In Addison, a committee's been formed to handle the issue of moving the historic Arnold Schoolhouse, located the corner of Hosner and Lakeville roads, to the township's Watershed Preserve Park.

February 4

Addison Fire Chief George Spencer gave the Leader an exclusive interview to talk about the fact he's being investigated by the Oakland County Sheriff's Department for giving an employee a pay advance, something he admitted was a mistake.

Chili's Grill & Bar at 700 N. Lapeer announced its closing. It's only been open since September 2007.

A downed wire caused 200 DTE Energy customers to lose power.

Detroit Shock player Cheryl Ford visited local girls at a winter basketball camp at Oxford Middle School.

February 11

Oxford Township Parks and Rec. Director Ron Davis is hoping the Obama administration will give him $3 million so he can one day purchase the Oxford Hills Golf and Country Club on E. Drahner Rd. and turn it into a municipal golf course.

Oxford Middle School seventh-grader Michael Harris won the school-wide spelling bee and is on his way to participate in county-wide one at Oakland University.

Joey Files, a sixth-grader at Kingsbury Country Day School in Addison, is going to be advising President Barack Obama. A PowerPoint presentation he created giving the new president advice on the economy, the war and how to save Detroit's auto companies was one of 43 top entries in a contest called "A Presidential Minute."

February 18

Local investor and property owner Ron Zilka confirmed he has a purchase agreement for the former James Lumber property, a 3.5-acre piece located at E. Burdick and Mill streets.

A total of 96 homes in the Village of Leonard are now eligible to receive high-speed internet service from AT&T's U-verse line of products.

After 41 years of taking tickets at Oxford sporting events, Andy Vascassenno, 87, has retired.

Dave Rayner, a 2001 OHS graduate, has signed to be a kicker with the NFL's Washington Redskins.

The Village of Leonard has placed a four-month moratorium on any decisions regarding the placement of cellular towers within its borders. During this time, the village will be updating its zoning ordinance regarding this issue.

February 25

It was close – 289 votes to be exact – but voters failed the Oxford school district's $70.135 million bond proposal by a margin of 2,191 to 1,902.

Records indicate that even though former Addison Supervisor Bob Koski left office in November 2008, he kept using the township's Home Depot charge card. Statements show Koski, his son and a local carpenter charged a total of $1,246 worth of materials in January.

Retired Oxford Policeman Stephen "Gordy" Burnham passed away the age of 56. He walked the beat in Oxford for 25 years.

Oxford Township will be receiving up to $1.5 million in federal stimulus funds (i.e. Obama bucks) to pave a gravel portion of Ray Road between Meijer and N. Oxford Road.

McDonald's is contemplating moving from its location at 280 N. Washington St. to a 1.21-acre site on the west side of M-24, just north of Market St.

March 4

Following a closed session meeting with Fire Chief George Spencer, the Addison Township Board voted 6-0 to accept his letter of resignation, effective March 2. The resignation was the culmination of a situation involving an improper pay advance Spencer made to an employee in December 2008.

Oxford Superintendent Dr. William Skilling is busy analyzing why the recent school bond proposal failed, when he thought it was going to pass based on parent feedback prior to the election.

Nine OHS grapplers qualified for the state finals.

In an effort to be environmentally-friendly, Kingsbury Country Day School has installed two waterless urinals in the boys restroom.

March 11

Oxford school officials are talking about placing a new bond proposal on the November ballot, but nothing's set in stone.

Oxford's wrestling team travelled to Battle Creek and finished second in the state. They fell just short of the championship when they lost their final match against Lowell.

American Legion Post 108 is going to host its first gun and military show.

Steven Gerard LaJoie, 49, of Oxford, was recently arrested after he allegedly solicited sex over the internet from a person he thought was a teenage boy.

March 18

OHS grappler Dylan Smith clinched the individual state championship in the 285-pound division at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

OHS students are rehearsing for their upcoming production of the musical "Annie."

Holocaust survivor Martin Lowenberg, 81, of Southfield, told his story to Oxford Middle School seventh-graders.

A couple of Oxford firefighers picked up a gunshot victim in Pontiac while en route to the hospital with another patient.

Jennifer Craig, a 1997 OHS graduate and student teacher, saved an Ortonville fifth-grader from choking.

March 25

Oxford Community Schools paid $25,000 to be part of a 30-minute infomercial on WXYZ Channel 7. The program was dubbed "The Best Schools in Michigan."

Leonard and Lakeville elementaries were officially named Michigan Blue Ribbon Exemplary Schools by the state Board of Education.

A trailer fire in Addison's Hidden Lake Estates mobile home park claimed the life of a 42-year-old man.

The owner of Harvest Time Farm Market is not pleased that Bordine Nursery will be opening a temporary business across the street from him after the Oxford Township Planning Commission granted the out-of-town operation a seasonal sales permit.

April 1

There was an outpouring of support for former OHS basketball coach Steve Laidlaw – and tons of criticism for the school administration – following his termination because the district wanted the program "to move in a new direction." A 1981 OHS graduate, he had coached the varsity boys team since October 2002.

OES fourth-grader Matthew Dunn is heading for the snowboarding nationals in Copper Mountain, Colorado.

The Oxford Downtown Development Authority is looking to start a classic car cruise downtown to help jumpstart local businesses.

OHS sophomore Dan Sottile is one of the top student violinists in the state. He recently played in Michigan's All-State Orchestra.

The Michigan Wrestling Association selected Brandon Rank as State Assistant Wrestling Coach of the Year. He's been the assistant wrestling coach at OHS for three years.

April 8

Oxford Schools' MEAP scores are "trending upward" according to officials.

A 6.5-inch wet, heavy snowfall coated the Oxford area, causing downed power lines. DTE Energy reported about 2,000 customers lost power in Oxford and Addison.

OHS seniors John Taylor and Scott Van Wagner are headed to the state Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition.

For their outstanding efforts to save the planet and raise environmental awareness, Clear Lake and Leonard elementaries were named Emerald Schools by the state.

Addison officials voted to freeze fire department wages effective April 1 in light of the tough economic times.

April 15

Even though he's only held elected office since November 2008, Oxford Twp. Trustee Joe Bunting announced his plans to run for the state House of Representatives.

The Channel 7 infomerical that Oxford Schools paid $25,000 to be part of led to the enrollment of 12 new students, according to school officials.

Oxford Township is allocating $150,000 for road repairs this year.

Jay Kristopher Bartoy, 35, pleaded no contest to felony assault with intent to murder along with a laundry list of other charges stemming from him shooting his ex-wife, a 36-year-old Oxford woman, in the face back in October 2008.

Collier Lanes in Oxford has opened a poker room to allow charities to hold tournaments and raise funds.

For all his coverage of local veterans, Leader Editor C.J. Carnacchio was honored with a Certificate of Appreciation from Oxford American Legion Post 108.

April 22

Joining thousands of folks from around the country, Oxford held its own TEA Party, an anti-tax rally, in front of the village offices at 22 W. Burdick St. An estimated 150-175 people showed up for the rally.

Leader Editor C.J. Carnacchio was honored with six awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Detroit Chapter. He was recognized for his weekly column "My Way," his editorials and his photos.

A group of Eskimo students from a school in Little Diomede, Alaska visited Kingsbury Country Day School.

April 29

William Arthur Keely, 65, of Brandon, committed suicide in his cell at the Oakland County Jail in Pontiac. He was awaiting trial in connection with his alleged sexual assault of a 16-year-old OHS girl.

Wind gusts in excess of 70 miles per hour knocked down 12 utility poles on the east side of M-24, between Ray and Metamora roads. As a result of this and other downed poles and wires, a total of 6,900 DTE Energy customers in Oxford were left without power. The winds also destroyed the OHS baseball field's backstop.

The poems of Daniel Axford second-graders Tate Hamilton, Adam Bertich and Jillian Beall were selected for publication in the Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans.

OHS students John Taylor and Scott Van Wagner finished second in the 16th Annual Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition held in Warren.

May 6

Parents packed the Devil's Ridge Golf Club in Oxford to discuss, ask questions and give opinions regarding the school district's controversial Schools of Choice program.

The Oxford Village Council is considering cutting the municipality property tax rate of 11.12 mills. Councilman Tony Albensi is hoping for a reduction of at least half-a-mill.

The Oxford DDA held its first classic car cruise of the season. More than 70 vintage vehicles showed up for the event.

Registered Nurse Amy Hamilton, 35, of Oxford, was named "Sixth Floor Nurse of the Year" at POH Regional Medical Center in Pontiac.

Oxford Village's new $2.5 million water treatment plant on S. Glaspie St. is operational and the water quality has been described as "excellent."

OES Principal Debbie Stout has announced she's retiring at the end of the school year. She's been principal of the Pontiac St. school since 1994.

May 13

Oxford School Board Trustee Sue Tombrella announced she will be resigning her post effective June 13. She's leaving because of a business opportunity.

Fire destroyed a horse farm's barn at 3270 Barber Road. The barn had been standing since at least 1896 according to the farm's owner.

The Oxford Village Council voted to reduce the property tax rate from 11.12 to 10.12 mills for the 2009-10 fiscal year beginning July 1.

Longtime Oxford resident Henry "Hank" Paddubny passed away at age 86. He was a World War II veteran, active member of American Legion Post 108 and former owner of a bait shop in downtown Oxford.

Daniel Axford Principal Lydia Engel announced her retirement.

May 20

MSP Industries (45 W. Oakwood Rd.) in Oxford announced plans to lay off 168 union employees and eight non-union employees in phases between May 18 and June 21.

Oxford Bank appointed Karen Mersino, 55, of Elba Township, as chairman of the board. It's the first female chair in the bank's 125-year history.

Longtime Oxford resident, political activist and Holocaust survivor Henry Gleisner died suddenly at age 85.

OHS math teacher Matthew Race resigned after it was discovered that he was aware some students had used an unacceptable technological aid during their Advanced Placement Statistics exam last year. It was almost used again during this year's exam, but it was caught in time.

Dianna Zink was named as the new principal of Leonard Elementary.

May 27

Oxford Township Trustee Mike Spisz proposed lowering customers sewer rates in light of the $7.5 million fund balance in the municipality's sewer fund.

Oxford Township will be receiving $447,968 in federal stimulus funds to construct a 3,800-foot safety path along the north side of W. Drahner Rd. from M-24 to Pontiac Rd.

The Rotary Club of Oxford awarded a total of $1,600 to seven OHS students as part of its STRIVE program.

June 3

A majority of Oxford's 12 full-time firefighters are considering joining a union.

Oxford Bank President and CEO Jeff Davidson immediately resigned his position with no public explanation during a special bank board meeting. He worked for the bank since September 1985 and served as president and CEO since January 2004.

Beloved Oxford Village Police Officer James Flores passed away suddenly at age 55. He had patrolled the streets of Oxford since 1975.

Addison Township rejoined the Polly Ann Trail Management Council after years of negotiations. The township left the council when it voted in August 2005 to stop paying dues starting with the 2006-07 fiscal year.

Oxford Village officials voted 3-1 to privatize the operation of its new water treatment plant. The Ohio-based Artesian of Pioneer will take over July 1.

June 10

A total of 267 seniors graduated from Oxford High School in a commencement ceremony held at Oakland University. Former Oxford School Board Trustee Helen Smith, herself a 1952 OHS graduate, got to hand a diploma to her grandson, Chase Tucker.

Swine Flu hit OMS after it was confirmed an eighth-grader has the H1N1 virus.

The Oxford Athletic Boosters and Foundation recognized 85 OHS senior athletes. Seniors Hannah George and Dylan Smith won the Helen Smith and George Prince awards, respectively, for being the best female and male athletes.

The misdemeanor charge of failure to report child abuse against former OHS teacher Margaret Sullivan Keely was dropped by the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office. The charge was connected to Keely's husband, who allegedly sexually assaulted a 16-year-old OHS girl. He committed suicide in April in the county jail.

June 17

There are five diagnosed cases of Swine Flu in the Oxford school district.

Oxford Township lowered its sewer charges, but raised its quarterly water debt service charge from $32 to $45 per REU effective January 1, 2010.

Retired Oxford Fire Chief Jack LeRoy was honored by the Rotary Club of Oxford with the coveted G..E. Meads Award.

Oxford Township officials voted 6-1 to not grant voluntary recognition of the International Association of Fire Fighters as the collective bargaining unit for the fire department's 12 full-time employees.

June 24

Oxford Bank has a new president and CEO and his name is C. James Bess, a 71-year-old resident of Jackson, Michigan with 37 years of banking experience. His mission is to turn around the struggling local bank.

The Oxford School Board approved a $39.8 million budget for the 2009-10 school year.

High water levels caused by significant rainfall are keeping the boat launch at Stony Lake Park from being repaired, so it's closed.

Addison officials agreed to buy the Arnold Auditorium/Schoolhouse for $1, so it can be relocated to the Watershed Preserve Park.

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